The "stress" at the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), University of Texas, Austin
Yesterday's Providence Journal reports that six Rhode Island high schools--including three that serve some of the state's poorest students and three that are among the highest-performing high schools--have accepted state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist's challenge to have 15-year-olds tested by the Program for International Assessment (PISA) in these schools' effort to become world class educators (Jennifer D. Jordan, "Six R.I. schools to be part of global test," p. A1).
Among the six schools is the one that 15-year-old "Jenny" hoped to attend, the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts (JMW) in Pawtucket (See "10.C. Jenny's dream school," below).
Five years ago, in March and April 2007, Deirdre V. Lovecky, PhD, at the Gifted Resource Center of New England, administered tests to then ten-year-old Jenny and advised her parents that Jenny "is a gifted girl who will need . . . an educational program that meets her needs for accelerated and stimulating work."
Lovecky's report is striking in its positive tone. She adds five detailed pages of specific opportunities and conveys a sense that parenting a child like Jenny is a great joy: "[Jenny's] parents might enjoy taking [Jenny] to museums, using a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt format."
One of Jenny's mothers, "Tracy," encouraged this approach, providing numerous opportunities for Jenny to do a wide range of activities, such as the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) at Amherst in 2007, Vassar in 2008, and the University of Texas at Austin in 2009.
Jenny looked forward to going to SIG at Bryn Mawr in 2010, but Barbara cancelled her acceptance and sent her to different camps for two entire months in the summers of 2010 and 2011, rather than letting her spend any time with Tracy. This has become a common practice of Family Court psychologists who try to "deprogram" children who are emotionally attached to one parent.
Ironically Barbara claimed that Tracy sought to control Jenny and was making her life too stressful. Meanwhile Jenny grew increasingly desperate to communicate with Tracy.
When Jenny was 12, Barbara wrote:
On Friday, October 23, 2009, I went to wake my daughter and found her fully clothed, asleep, with a new cell phone by her side.Barbara's attorneys gave the Court these alleged text messages, which began with the girl writing to her mother, Tracy, at 6:06 pm:
. . . I removed the cell phone, left a note and retrieved the messages she had received the night before . . . . When [Jenny] woke and discovered the cell phone missing and my note, I tried to talk with her. She went under her covers, went rigid and I had to literally lift her off the bed to get her to school. . . .
I have the appsTracy writes back instantly:
Soooooo happy 2 hear from you...do u mean apps for JMW? I was soooo worried about u all week not hearing from u... r u seeing Judith [Lubiner, court-ordered psychologist] 2nite or not?Jenny responds promptly:
Yes. Im sorry 4 makin u wory. Gues what? Sensei said that he wuz bout 2 become a math teacher there but went to that other place firstTracy uses this as a teaching moment:
really? ...see? he values the cultural arts. read the app carefully...I think u need a pic. I have some here or you take one with the photo booth on the MAC if you want so its current....yes?It would be unfair to evaluate each mother's relationship to their daughter by contrasting Jenny's encounter with each of them in the scene Barbara portrayed.
But as I try to understand the manner in which Attorneys Cynthia Gifford and Cherrie Perkins zealously advocate for Barbara, and as I compare it to Tracy's zealous advocacy for Jenny, I am learning a lot about the games lawyers play (which I will describe in more detail later).
I could not continue to do this work if I did not believe that what happens routinely at Family Court in these disturbing custody cases will someday seem as absurd as other games that flourished once upon a time.
Paulus Hector Mair, de arts athletica, 1540s